The 19th meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutant Review Committee (POPRC-19) agreed that two chemicals should be controlled under the Stockholm Convention on POPs so countries can take measures to eliminate or restrict their production and use and manage their wastes.
POPRC-19 recommended that the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Stockholm Convention list medium-chain chlorinated paraffins and long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids, their salts, and related compounds for elimination under Convention Annex A (elimination). Medium-chain chlorinated paraffins are often used: in metalworking fluids as lubricants and coolants; as a plastic softener; and in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products, paints, sealants, and rubber. Long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids belong to the per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) family, more commonly known as “forever chemicals.” They are water, stain, and grease resistant, and used in industrial and consumer products, including in producing semiconductors, printing inks, paints and coatings, paper and food packaging, waterproof textiles, cleaning products, and firefighting foams. Both medium-chain chlorinated paraffins and long-chain perfluorocarboxylic acids pose dangers to human health, including causing cancer, as they persist in the body over the long term without breaking down.
The POPRC also agreed to the continued use of both chemicals in specific circumstances. Thus, in addition to listing for elimination, the COP will also consider specific exemptions when it next convenes in 2025.
In addition, POPRC-19 adopted the risk profile for the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, which will be further considered for a recommendation of listing at POPRC-20. Widely used in agriculture, chlorpyrifos can harm children and pregnant women and negatively impact on the nervous system. The Committee will also assess information on socioeconomic considerations and possible control measures for chlorpyrifos as part of its risk management evaluation that will be used when recommendation is considered.
In opening remarks, Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary, Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions acknowledged the “stellar” work of the Committee and said the COP has adopted all of the POPRC’s recommendations for listing chemicals.
The POPRC also:
- considered a draft document on long-range environmental transport, a critical factor that needs to be taken into account when evaluating chemicals proposed for listing under the Convention;
- explored options for identifying POPs in stockpiles, products, and articles in use and in wastes; and
- worked on further updating and refining indicative lists of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts, and PFOA-related compounds and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), its salts, and PFHxS-related compounds.
A side event themed, ‘Chemical Long-range Environmental Transport and Local Sources: An Arctic Perspective,’ organized by Norway and Canada, also convened.
POPRC-19 met from 9-13 October 2023 in Rome, Italy, with more than 100 participants in attendance, including experts in chemicals assessment and management, government observers, and representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Peter Dawson, New Zealand, chaired the meeting. [Stockholm Convention Press Release] [Highlights from Day 1] [Highlights from Day 2]